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Louise Gluck

(22 April 1943 / New York / United States)

The Untrustworthy Speaker


Don't listen to me; my heart's been broken.
I don't see anything objectively.

I know myself; I've learned to hear like a psychiatrist.
When I speak passionately,
That's when I'm least to be trusted.

It's very sad, really: all my life I've been praised
For my intelligence, my powers of language, of insight-
In the end they're wasted-

I never see myself.
Standing on the front steps. Holding my sisters hand.
That's why I can't account
For the bruises on her arm where the sleeve ends . . .

In my own mind, I'm invisible: that's why I'm dangerous.
People like me, who seem selfless.
We're the cripples, the liars:
We're the ones who should be factored out
In the interest of truth.

When I'm quiet, that's when the truth emerges.
A clear sky, the clouds like white fibers.
Underneath, a little gray house. The azaleas
Red and bright pink.

If you want the truth, you have to close yourself
To the older sister, block her out:
When I living thing is hurt like that
In its deepest workings,
All function is altered.

That's why I'm not to be trusted.
Because a wound to the heart
Is also a wound to the mind.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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